Saturday, 28 February 2009

Winter (apparently) Mountaineering

Today I was working on the 1st day of a 4 day Winter Mountaineering course. We headed up to Aonach Mor and covered basic winter skills - moving on snow and ice with and without crampons, cutting steps, self arresting, avalanche awareness; quick pits, Rutchblocks tests etc and finished off at the cafe after a small journey up to the wee cairn. Tomorrow Paul, Mark and Dave are going to be going out with Karl to cover rope work skills and I'm going to head out with them and shadow and assist. We experienced some rain and very brief snow higher up but nothing substantial and it felt fairly mild.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

SCNL via The Zig Zags

Today Susan was up for something a little more hands on and some more snow, so I decided to take her up the Zig Zags on Gearr Aonach and then we continued up onto the East ridge and the down the north ridge of SCNL. It rained for a considerable amount of the day and only briefly fell as snow higher up. Susan learnt the basics to navigation and managed to navigate us both off the summit and back into the corrie floor. Crampons were not really needed, however we did put them on for the last rocky sections of the East ridge, just to give Susan a feel for scrambling over rocks with spikes on her feet. After a quick walk down we went and discussed the weekend over a nice cool shandy in the Clachaig.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Glencoe Ski Centre

Today I was out with Vicky and Susan who are both on a 2 day Winter Skills course. We headed up along the chair lift and found some great patches of snow to teach movement and using the boot as a tool, we looked at uses of the axe and how to self arrest, step cutting and route choice and we also had a good look at avalanche awareness. The weather was quite fierce up there with high winds and transportation of snow quite evident. As we were getting higher the snow pack was firmer and fresh snow was getting deposited on top.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


Today I went out with Plas Y Brenin on a day 1 of a WML Training Course. We went up to Buachaille Etive Beag and covered snow skills, group movement, self arrest, looked at snow pack and avalance tests. Looked like there had been a very light dusting of snow on Stob Coire Sgreamhach (1072m). Very wet snow underfoot, as expected with the past week of weather.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Winter skills - Day 2

Yesterday I headed into the Mamores with Ginny, Alasdair, Gavin and Linda for their final day of their Introduction to winter skills course. the plan was to practice the skills they had learnt from yesterday and put them into a more realistic content. We summited Am Bodach, most of the groups first Munroe, however unfortunately we never go a view from the top. Again it was quite mild, chilly in the wind but with a obvious thaw underway. How it does get colder later this week.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Winter skills - Day 1

Today I have been running day 1 of a 2 day Introduction to Winter Skills course for The Ice Factor. We headed up into Coire nan Lochan, Glencoe looking at safe movement through the mountains and use of the equipment carried. The temperature was no where near freezing, and the snow and ice appeared to be thawing and the buttresses were very black. I saw multiple teams on Doral Arete, which would be a suitable choice in these thawing conditions. Tomorrow we are going to head up into the Mamores for a journey and hopefully help the group get their first winter Munroe.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Green Gully

A damp day today on Ben Nevis but with good ice on many routes. We headed up and climbed Green Gully which sported good ice throughout. The temperature rose as the day went on, turning the buttresses black and softening up the ice. After an early start we finished our route nice and early and decended number 4 gully. Graham lost his Rab gloves on decent. Please could you let me know if you find them. Cheers.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Windy up on Ben Nevis

Today's original plan was to climb Point 5, but with the wind blowing all this fresh snow around, we knew that it would be like trying to climb up a waterfall (of spindrift). Jamie and I headed up to the CIC hut, passing a couple of parties who said it was too windy, and got a better look from there. We headed up to Thompsons Route. From this height we could see that lots of the mixed lines were very white and looking very tempting and the gully's were looking good, despite being quite loaded with snow. Very high winds meant constant flow of snow up my nose, down my jacket and making my eyelashes freeze together. I set of on Thompsons to find very soft snow/ice and nothing to get a good purchase on, I remember the first section being straight forward under previous conditions. After a while of scraping and almost drowning in spindrift, I down climbed and we escaped up Number 3 Gully and walked up to the summit and hid in the Shelter. The wind was blowing so much snow around both on the tops and on the cliffs. One team backed off Gargoyle Wall, think the went and climbed Number 3 Gully Buttress, one team on SW Ridge of Douglas Boulder (good option when there are high winds), also Alan Kimber was on Ledge Route. Anyone pick up some BD trekking poles from the CIC hut, by the gas bottles? If so please get in touch with me or Ken Applegate from OB. Cheers

Staff Training on Wednesday

As I have just compleated my Winter Mountain Leader Training last week, Alan wanted to go out on the hill and talk through stratergies of looking after groups in the winter mountains. We went over lots of points I covered in the training and picked up new ideas and shared mine accross too. We went up to Aonach Mor, where we were met by pleanty of snow, all of which falling very calmly, unaffected by the wind. As the day went on winds did pick up ever so slightly but never affected our day.